LH Hospital under UPMC umbrella

LOCK HAVEN — Medical services are growing in this area, and one easy-to-see addition is the new UPMC Outpatient Center.

Jan. 1 is the target date to open the center, in what was once the Bald Eagle Plaza at McElhattan, and rapid progress can be seen as the project moves toward a date just two months away.

The new center has been a key piece in the transition of Lock Haven Hospital to UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven.

UPMC purchased Lock Haven Hospital this summer. It is now working to bring the local medical institution up to UPMC quality standards, officials said Wednesday afternoon during a flag-raising celebration in front of the hospital.

The community can expect services of a higher standard than they were under Quorum, which was the hospital’s previous owner, said UPMC Susquehanna President Steve Johnson.

The UPMC Outpatient Center will incorporate the Haven Medical Center, which was facing the need to relocate from its downtown location anyway. Rotating specialists will provide services at the McElhattan center, and it also will include lab and X-ray services.

Although Haven Medical Center will move out of the downtown, the Flemington clinic will remain open, said Ron Reynolds, UPMC Susquehanna vice president of Clinton County operations and the local hospital’s chief administrative officer.

Personnel also has been a big focus in this very first phase since the purchase.

UPMC has added 22 new full-time positions across the hospital’s departments, focusing on medical units and long-term care, Reynolds reported. Many staff members are staying and looking forward to seeing medical service grow under the new ownership, he said.

In the first 30 days, “Our focus has been on providing our staff and physicians with adequate tools, resources, facilities and support” to provide the UPMC standard of care, Reynolds said.

“The enthusiasm and appreciation of the staff have been palpable,” he added.

The new flag and sign at the facility display the new name, UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven. The flag went up the pole for the first time Wednesday, with Johnson and Reynolds doing the honors during a rare few minutes without rain.

Brief, speeches were made inside a pleasantly decorated white tent. The Dutch Haven catered with hors d’oeuvres, Twin Run Farm Bakery provided baked goods, and hot coffee was popular on the chilly afternoon.

Attending were members of the Lock Haven Advisory Board for the local hospital, representatives from the offices of state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, and U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, along with other notable members of Lock Haven University and the community at large.

Dan Klingerman, of the UPMC Susquehanna Board, took a few minutes to relate some of UPMC’s impressive statistics. The Christian faith-based health care provider is the largest non-government employer in Pennsylvania, with 80,000 employees, more than 30 hospitals, more than 6,000 affiliate positions, and more than 600 doctors’ offices and outpatient clinics. Additionally, the UPMC health care plan has 3.2 million members.

The $16 billion enterprise represents $1 billion in community benefits and has made $912 million in community contributions.

“Our mission is to extend God’s healing love by providing outstanding patient care and shaping tomorrow’s health care through clinical and technological innovation and education,” Klingerman said.

Dr. David Lopatofsky, UPMC Susquehanna chief medical officer and executive vice president, reported another piece of positive news — the UPMC Susquehanna Williamsport Regional Medical Center, has started the three-year process to become a certified trauma center. This would provide residents with trauma care closer to their home communities, he said.

The dream, Johnson said, is to provide world-class health care that is both convenient and affordable.

He outlined the four cornerstones of the UPMC vision — people, partnership, leadership, and “a sacred calling” to provide health care.

“People are our most important resource,” he said, and UPMC Susquehanna is working now “to outfit and prepare our current staff here with the kinds of resources and technology necessary to provide world-class care.”

UPMC Susquehanna Lock Haven will look to recapture the vision of the local hospital’s founders, he said. Dr. Rita Church was one of them. She was also instrumental in co-founding Williamsport Hospital. This connection shows “our river town roots,” Johnson said.

Jan Fisher, UPMC Susquehanna chief operating officer and executive vice president, referred to the fire that burned the first Lock Haven Hospital to the ground in 1908, just 11 years after it was founded. She talked about the strong commitment of the community that rebuilt it, then years later moved it to its current location and added programs over the decade.

The hospital has earned Joint Commission certifications, she said, and is now working to provide an even higher quality of care. UPMC staff have walked through every department, looking at equipment, staffing and information technology and asking what is needed.

“We are making sure this facility meets all the standards of services, quality and care,” she said. “The staff members here are eager and happy. … It’s a pleasure to work with this team.”

“When we bring a hospital into UPMC Susquehanna, we adopt the community as well,” she added. “You will see expansions in both the scope of services and the hospital’s involvement in the community.”